Nanaimo's former CAO files suit against city, claiming she was wrongfully dismissed

Nanaimo’s former chief administrative officer has filed a wrongful dismissal suit against the city.

In a notice of claim that also names former mayor Bill McKay and Coun. Sheryl Armstrong, filed May 31 in B.C. Supreme Court in Vancouver, Tracy Samra says that she was terminated from her $180,000-a-year job without cause and without the required 12 months’ notice.

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Samra, who now works with the provincial and federal governments, was hired in the winter of 2015 as Nanaimo’s interim chief administration officer. In March 2016, she was offered the job and signed a four-year contract with the city.

She was terminated May 25, 2018.

The notice of claim says that from the time Samra was hired as interim CAO to the end of her employment, she was bullied and harassed and was the subject of false allegations.

The city failed to step in, she says.

During the previous administration, there were rocky relations between some members of council and between some senior staff and council. Samra’s claim refers to contentious interactions with McKay and Armstrong.

She alleges that the city was insensitive and failed to act in good faith when dealing with her termination.

As a result, Samra says, she suffered mental distress and harm to her reputation and is entitled to aggravated damages. Nanaimo’s conduct merits punitive damages, she says.

“At all times during her employment, Samra faithfully and capably performed her duties for the city,” her claim says.

In early 2018, Samra was arrested by RCMP following allegations of threats uttered at Nanaimo City Hall, a special prosecutor said at the time. In March 2019, a special prosecutor discontinued an application for a peace bond against Samra.

Nanaimo Mayor Leonard Krog said Thursday that he is aware of the lawsuit. “The city has not been served and we will be taking no action presently and I will have nothing further to say.”

Armstrong said in an email that she has not been served and would not comment unless that happened. McKay could not be reached.

No court date has been set. Allegations have not been proven in court.

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